The Corner

Politics & Policy

More Lousy University Policies (Not Title IX-Related This Time)

University of North Carolina – Wilmington (Wikimedia)

For quite a few years now, we have been hearing about the lousy policies and procedures that many universities have for dealing with Title IX accusations — rather than fair and transparent, these policies are unfair and opaque. But it isn’t just Title IX cases where we find examples.

In today’s Martin Center article, University of North Carolina–Wilmington professor Lou Buttino writes about his unhappy experience with school procedures when a younger, female faculty colleague first violated a contract with him (over a movie script) and then tried to attack him with a host of unfounded charges.

Buttino explains the the Faculty Professional Relations Committee acted as if it was unfamiliar with the concept of due process of law. Although she had falsely accused him of libel because of his truthful claim that she had committed an ethical violation against him, he was not allowed to confront her. Moreover, Buttino writes,

I offered to pay for a camera or recorder so testimony could be taped. My request was refused. I learned that no transcripts of hearings are ever kept. This lack of a transcript is no small matter. Should a legal case arise from a hearing, which it did, a transcript would be extremely important.

In the end, the whole procedure turned out to be a complete waste of time, as Buttino explains:

Each of us was asked to write letters of apology to those who may have been harmed in the dispute. Nothing was to be done about (her) lying and plagiarism. But then came the knockout punch. The dean informed me there was ‘no mechanism’ for even carrying out the punishment, such as it was.

Later, Buttino would make numerous attempts to clear his good name, since the accusations against him were never refuted, but no one in the administration even bothered to acknowledge his communications. This has been Kafka brought to life.

It’s easy to think that this dispute would have turned out much differently if Buttino’s dispute had been with a male faculty colleague rather than a female. In any event, we now have yet more evidence that our universities have sunk to moral and ethical lows.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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